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      After having to undergo an interview Dom was able to secure access for a foray at Blagdon Hall , although we did have to stay within certain boundaries . 10 members set off with a Blagdon representative , Shaun Scott , who does tree work for them and was interested in fungi . The estate has been in the Ridley family’s possession since the 17thCentury . Matt Ridley , the environmentalist , is the current owner . His father was an avid collector of trees , hence amongst the arboretum type grounds there are the National Collections of Acer , Alnus and Sorbus .

      Our fungal abilities were tested during the day .

      Firstly , a GASTRONOMIC challenge presented itself to 2 forayers who spotted a large edible agaricus sp in the middle of the cricket pitch (over the boundary !) . Undeterred they rescued it despite shouts from the crowd , being caught midwicket as it were .

      Next an ODORIFIC conundrum , was it fishy or cucumbery ? The Cucumber Cap , macrocystidia cucumis and again was it stinking enough for the Stinking Dapperling , lepiota cristata ?

      A MILKY puzzler , copious milk oozing from a lactarius under beech was it fluens or a pale blennius ?

      A succession of DECEIVERS were spotted including amethyst alongside its lookalike inocybe geophylla var lilacina and were they the rare Chestnut Earthstars , geastrum castanea , that we found ?

      Lunch in the Quarry Gardens led us to COCONUT milk caps , lactarius glyciosmus that were everywhere around the Chinese red birch cultivar , Betula ‘Hergest’ , followed by LAWYER’S wigs and weeping WIDOWS at the far end of the dene . Here strategically placed lichens adorned nude statues whilst overhead a buzzard mewed plaintively as we progressed .

      Friendly chickens in the car park were the portents for other finds , a possible young HEN of the WOODS , HARE’S EARS , a SNAKESKIN GRISETTE and an accommodating FROG who had to double as a toad for his TOADSTOOL photo opportunity . A LEOPARD slug and a pale tussock moth CATERPILLAR also drew attention .

      Jill meanwhile found more coloured dust insided quercus petrae acorn cups , could they be further examples of the Red Data List Rust , cronartium quercuum ???????


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